Monday, March 16, 2009
Osceola's Prison in St. Augustine, Florida
In the last post I mentioned the capture of the great Seminole warrior Osceola by U.S. troops near St. Augustine in 1837.
The incident was one of the most controversial in the history of U.S. dealings with Native American leaders. Osceola was taken prisoner along with several other key Seminole leaders when the arrived for a planned peace negotiation under the protection of a flag of truce. General Thomas Jesup defended the action by pointing out that Osceola and other Seminoles had promised to surrender previously, only to break their word and slip back into woods.
While most Floridians of the time approved of the action, many Americans did not. Jesup became an extremely controversial figure and citizens from the piney woods of Florida to the halls of Congress debated his conduct. For Osceola, however, the debate was meaningless.
Taken to the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, he was held prisoner in the old Spanish fortress. After other Seminoles escaped, however, Osceola was moved by ship to Fort Moultrie at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. He died there on January 20, 1838, and is buried by the entrance to the fort.
The old Castillo, where the great Seminole was imprisoned in St. Augustine, is now a national monument. To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/castillodesanmarcos1. You can also learn more about Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/SCMoultrie1.